U.K. FSA Couldn’t Have Done More to Ease Crisis, Sants Says

The U.K. Financial Services Authority couldn’t have done more to prevent the 2008 financial crisis, Hector Sants, the regulator’s chief executive officer, said in what is likely to be the agency’s final annual report.

Sants said that “without our actions, it would have been worse,” referring to the banking crisis triggered by the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. He said he was proud of the way the FSA responded to “what has at times felt like relentless criticism.”

The 56-year-old Sants, who headed the regulator for much of the financial crisis, will step down this month before the FSA is broken into two watchdogs next year. During his five-year term, Sants led a crackdown on bank sales of payment-protection insurance and led an overhaul of the regulator following the near collapse of Northern Rock Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

“We gave our utmost and I do believe that in the circumstances there is nothing more the FSA could have done which would have materially changed the outcome,” Sants said in a statement introducing the regulator’s annual report.

Margaret Cole, who was appointed executive director for enforcement in 2010, became the second-highest paid FSA employee this year, after her pay rose to 616,000 pounds ($966,000) from 264,000 pounds, according to the report.

Cole left the FSA in March, joining PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as senior legal adviser. Sants remains the regulator’s highest paid executive, with annual compensation rising 3.4 percent to 835,000 pounds. He donated his 144,000-pound bonus to the Art Room, a registered charity, the FSA said in the report.

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